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Mumps, an infection caused by the mumps virus, can cause fever, headache and swelling of the salivary glands around the jaw and cheeks. About 10% of people who get mumps also get meningitis, but mumps meningitis is usually mild. Mumps can also cause encephalitis, leading to permanent brain damage. In rare cases, men with both testicles infected with mumps become sterile.

In the last ten years there have been outbreaks of mumps mostly among young adults in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Alberta. These outbreaks demonstrate how certain population groups are susceptible to getting mumps due to lack of previous vaccination or incomplete vaccination.


Public Health Agency of Canada. Canadian Immunization Guide. Evergreen edition. (external link)

Canadian Paediatric Society. (external link)

Capsule History

  • Before vaccine— Mumps is usually a mild disease. However, because of the safety, effectiveness and low cost of mumps vaccine it makes sense to vaccinate children.
  • After vaccine — Data from Canada, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Finland show that the number of cases of mumps decreased by over 90% after mumps vaccine became available. Mumps encephalitis has virtually disappeared from countries with effective vaccination programs.